Monday, February 15, 2010

Tan Hill

When darkness shrouds the summit peace, like pollen, spreads.
Cows that glow, like dying bonfires, rest on briary beds.
Lost lovers with laryngitis pitch their songs of woe
Over Arkengarthdale peaks and into Keld below.
The inn is out and out the highest in the land,
A pole-vault from the sun, a haven for the tanned.
Walkers swap their scary tales
Of ghouls and farmers on the dales,
But if a corpse in old West Burton
Really curtsied seems uncertain.
And does a man from Reeth keep demons in his barn?
No one yet has ever dared to verify that yarn!

Burial at Sea, off Helgoland
(for Anna Landgraf)

What were you doing?

Were you busy the day

That Long Anna sank

Below the red clay,

In a vast coffin

Of co-ordinates?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gretel (and Gravity)

This story is just about Gretel –
Hansel, it seems, does not have the mettle,
Or the time, or ... Some lame excuse.
It begins as the midwife starts to induce
Peristaltic breadcrumbs settle
In the birth canal, and Gretel
Begins to follow the trail;
And so I retell the fairytale,
With Hansel on leave,
And gas and air to relieve
The pain ...

Once, there fell a great dearth
On a Godless elsewhere sphere,
And Gravity was led to Earth
And cruelly abandoned here;
Brought to this world from some other realm.
In the fairytale by Wilhelm
And Jacob Grimm,
Hansel leaves a trail to retrace;
But Gravity opted, absurdly, to skim
Her pebbles along the surface of space,
Unburdening herself, the silly oaf,
Before she had even set out,
And although she remembered to take a loaf,
She scattered her breadcrumbs about
Far too wide;
And when she was left on Earth, she cried,
For she realised her mistake;
And the world began to ache
Under the weight of her clasps.

I hear the dulcet gasps
Of people falling upwards!
Everything leaves the Earth, nothing sticks –
Gretel, who had been pressing on the cervix,
Falls upwards and is born through the crown of my wife's head;
And my wife, probably dead,
Trails behind in her dressing gown.
The shards of her punctured crown
Cut into Gretel's feet,
But, at once, the blood is dry,
And everyone in the Delivery Suite -
My wife, Gretel, the midwife and I -
Is decanted into outer space
At an imponderable pace ...
We leave behind the terra firma,
And having suffered with baroterma-
tismophobia since childhood,
Being constantly told that gravity could
Never possibly cease,
Now that it’s finally vacated …
O' the release -
I feel vindicated!
The Earth is deciduous, after all,
And we are its leaves, except we fall
Upwards, come the season.

So, what can be the reason?
Why has Gravity left our planet?
To go back home? How can it?
No pebble was dropped, and every crumb
Was thrown astray …
He who abandoned Gravity has come
Back to collect the castaway,
To lead her back to the dimension
From whence she came,
Causing this cataclysmic ascension.

Now, I suppose you might claim
That gravity is a universal law:
“Being everywhere, all over, at once,
It is omnipresent. Therefore,
To say it could ever ensconce
On our Earth, alone, is a falsehood.
Beyond the grove of our neighb-
Gravity is a babe
Lost in the wood
Of ubiquity,
If lost at all;
But the thrust of my objection
Is: how is it possible to fall -
Upwards, downwards, or in any direction -
Once gravity has gone,
When falling, itself, is dependent on
This universal law;
And when, in fact, ‘falling’ is just another word for
‘Gravitational force’
(Like ‘autumn’, of course,
Is another word for ‘fall’)?!”

Oh, why be so quizzical?
Thoughts, though very, very small
Are physical,
And the fact my wife was able to fall
Upwards in your imagination, at least,
Means she did, and gravity ceased,
And that is why she fell …

“Gravity is lost in sylvan om
Not merely flitting from
Earth to the silver crescence
Of our moon, like a moth,
Making our oceans froth
And bulge with tides:
It is everywhere else besides!”

The Earth yields its impedimenta,
And we are no longer seeking the centre
In accordance with the centripetal force:
We fall upwards, and the course
We follow through space is lined
With the kind of hairs you find
On a nettle, though we slide
Upwards from the underside,
Avoiding getting stung …
We see strange, torpid stars among
The other stars in the cosmos -
Matte stars, lacking gloss -
And the midwife tells me that those
Are the itchy white hives that arose
Through brushing against the nettle …

We fall upwards, following Gretel,
Delivered and exalted,
Dressed in the rags of her afterbirth,
And the canyons of heaven are filled with the salted
Waters uprooted from Earth.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wherever there is mass, there is gravity … even in dried fruit:
"If ever gravity was repealed,
Earth would not then simply yield
Its impedimenta,
For there is gravity even at the centre
Of Earth, and its force is transmitted
At the centre of cherries, prunes and dates,
Pitted or unpitted -
Gravity is everywhere, and it operates
Within, throughout and inside,
Never to be defied;
And, according to a recent article
In a reputable journal,
Even a subatomic particle
Is likely to contain a kernel
Of gravity.
Eternally saddled
With mass,
If gravity skedaddled,
What events would come to pass,
What quagmires would ensue?
If gravity were no longer around,
Would mass disappear too,
Or turn, perhaps, into a profound

Here is the song version

Another related song, here

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Trampoline Marathon
(with broken rhyme enjambments)

It was spring, my eyes were itchy with pollen.
You and I and our classmates had volun
teered for a 24 hour spons
ored trampoline marathon. The respons
ibility for our welfare
Lay with a man called Ian Rigg. There
Was a rule:
Any kids found on the school
Playing field during the night
Would be
Sent home immediately.

The undersides of our socks were grey with the dust
Of the sports hall – we bounced without shoes on;
But when we were not bouncing,
Waiting for our turn,
You told me you dream of a house you call
The three ‘o’clock house, because on the wall
Is a clock
That always says three ‘o’clock.

It was spring, my eyes were itchy with pollen.
You and I and our classmates had volun
teered for a 24 hour spons
ored trampoline marathon. A séance
Took place in reboundful midair:
I heard you ask “is anybody there?!”
Was a rule:
Any kids found on the school
Playing field during the night
Would be
Sent home immediately.

While attempting to contact the dead,
You bounced with one arm above your head,
The other sticking out to your side -
In the three ‘o’clock position.
Quite soon, when your arms were supplied
Not with blood, but the acquisition
Of a spirit, I watched
As your right arm was notched
60 degrees in an ant
iclockwise direction – a slant
Suggestive of ten to the hour;
A lithe, athletic power
Had entered into your being,
Its clock’s hands disagreeing
With where your hands had halted.
You turned and tucked and somersaulted
Like a circus acrobat!
“Is anybody there?” was all it took
To determine the spirit was that
Of the Georgian poet, Rupert Brooke.
I’m still not sure if you meant to
Be a channel for him in partic
ular, but his clock was at ten to
Three, and the semaphoric
Gesture you made with your arms
Was altered, accordingly.
As strong as the nails through the palms
Of the man at quarter to three,
The poet now held you at ten to,
Like the clock in the poem he had sent to
Edward Marsh,
His friend and biographer.

The song version is here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

By and by, those rudeboy druids
Will move to Farnham, marry, have kids
And shop at the Lidl on Dogflud Way.

Monday, February 08, 2010

This Morning, Before Visiting The Toilet (The Silver Bowl)

We awoke this morning, in an oven glove.
It held our bodies, as we made love;
And I fancied you could feel
My consolidated evening meal,
Lending weight to my thrusts;
The soup, the croutons, the crusts,
The melted cheese, the lamb on a spit:
The unevacuated shit,
Lending weight to my thrusts …

I was proud of my fatuous lusts;
The digested lamb was now a sheep,
My thrusts were heavy and deep -
Heavy on you, and deep inside.
The sheep was turning - its legs still tied,
Still roasting on a spit,
Soaking up flour from the crusts:
Unevacuated shit,
Binding together, augmenting my thrusts;

The weevils in the flour, unsifted,
And the herbs that had topped my dessert,
Pressed me down and lifted -
Pushed down, until it hurt;
The grated lemon, the mustard dressing,
The soft and torn off crusts,
Were binding together, giving their blessing,
And lending weight to my thrusts …

I despise my fatuous lusts -
Scatological, crude;
When did my shit stop being my food;
And had it begun to lend its weight
Before it was served on my plate,
And even before the food was prepared?
If the lamb’s life had been spared -
A pet, for the farmer to keep -
Would my thrusts, this morning, have been so deep?

And, now, alone, I have to admit,
I still keep thinking of food and shit.
I think of the critic - the food writer;
His menu, when closed, is tighter
And more carnal than any hole:
The waiter puts down a silver bowl
And opens the wine - my excitement grows;
The critic inhales through his nose,
And I am sealed in the menu’s spine …
Then, when I come, he spits the wine
Into the bowl, supplied …

The lamb is turning - its legs still tied;
Slowly, I find relief, and pass
The sheep’s tongue, still stained with grass,
And then its teeth - the lips pulled back,
Slapping together, becoming slack,
As the rest of the head emerges.
After passing the food, a feeling surges
And rumbles through my soul;

I drink the wine from the silver bowl,
Dreaming that I am drifting above,
Watching the two of us, making love:
My thrusts are majestic - the angle is steep;
Between my buttocks, the tongue of the sheep
Is the only part that is showing -
Stained with grass, raspberry-blowing -
Blowing out, between each cheek,
Belittling my technique.

The liquid I drink from the silver bowl
Hardens inside me - shines like a pole,
Used by pole-dancing strippers;
And agile limbs replace the flippers
Of my kidneys, lungs and heart:
An entire body - its legs apart -
Simulates sex within mine,
Sliding down the solidified wine,
Swinging around, working for tips;
And as the body within me strips -
Never involving me -
I fear that, after this fantasy,
The pole will remain, and slowly migrate
To a place where, perhaps, it would lend its weight,
Were it not so unyielding and long;
I will feel the spray of the sheep’s tongue,
Between my legs, around my sack
And on the downy small of my back,
As the insolent pole hampers my thrusts …
I despise my fatuous lusts.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Caudal Appendage and Haemorrhoids
(tried a hot bath, more fibre, taking my overdue books back to the library. Nothing has worked, and it's been two days now … )

Oh, “where the sun don't shine” -
Overdue, and a terrible fine!
Avoid all haemorrhoidal bleeding –
Take your books back after reading;
Take them back, renew your loan!

A lump emerged, as big as the bone
That protrudes at the base of my spine,
Rendering me supine,
With knees aloft, wide apart,
And now it hurts to fart -
More than hitherto known;
A lump as big as my tailbone -
With blood, so bright, almost pink;
A lump the size of the missing link -
The size of the bone where a primate’s tail
Had tethered itself to a hay bale,
Rather than climb
Beyond the time
When we evolved and borrowed books.
The monkey’s hay bale looks
So comfortable in my mind
(My books were late and I was fined),
Extinction’s healing void
Would surely soothe my haemorrhoid
(Dodos flying, never landing,
Library fines are still outstanding) …

If I sat on extinction’s bale,
I know that, soon, like the tail
That evolution docked,
My coccyx - usually easily knocked,
Usually sour and petrified,
And routinely made to hide
Beneath my pants, under a label -
Would loosen and be able
To swish and ripple gracefully ...
Let something else evolve, not me:
A bookish, thrombotic droid,
Emerging in time, like a haemorrhoid -
Straddling the dolphin's fin.
Insert a finger, pop me back in:
Let me sit on this bale -
My brain like the bone where a primate’s tail
Once wagged,
As its hands dragged
On the floor;
Leave me behind, my bottom is sore.

With a stern “shush!” in the Reading Room,
I see another haemorrhoid loom,
Like a comet, with a tail of sparks,
And the mildew of studious bite marks
On the plastic arms of my glasses,
Glistens beneath my hair, as it passes:
I study for what - a Distinction?
And all I crave is extinction ...

Make me endangered, then make me gone;
The tail I had, like the neck of a swan,
Fell on its wings, grew shorter,
Then dived for something under the water –
Extended deep, then dissolved;
And so my body evolved
Without a tail – without grace –
And now I feel compelled to chase
Another morsel of sinking bread:
Let me dissolve in the river bed;
No more a biped, nor erect,
No longer sore, no longer pecked
By my coccyx, madly,
Under a label, cut out badly,
So the jagged washing instructions remain
To prickle and scratch … oh, let me crane
My neck to chase the sinking bread:
Let me dissolve in the river bed.

The bale looks soft, but might its hay
Scratch me in a similar way
To how the label does now?
I crave extinction, but exactly how,
Where I sit – and what on –
Will make the difference when I am gone:
Luxuriously extinct –
When my tender coccyx has slinked
Away from the base of my spine,
I will find a comfortable place to recline …

Endangered, in limbo, extinct, limber!
Felling the fins of sharks – timber!
I kneel in the path of the toppling fin,
Hoping the impact will pop me back in –
As the fin spanks my rear end;
Where the fin had stood, light will descend
And seedling fish will thrive.

Oh, why did my tail not survive?
Ka Cox, the girlfriend of Rupert Brooke,
Had a coccyx that people mistook
For a tail – it hung so loosely;
And while she secretly prayed profusely
That her tail would someday shrivel, the poet
Secretly wished his muse could grow it,
For he knew its power;
And he climbed to the top of the library tower
In Cambridge, by the River Cam,
And shouted to Ka: “From where I am,
I can see the tails in the city of Ely,
But none are as loose, none swish freely –
They climb the cathedral like vines!”
He returned his books and paid his fines …
Gotta go kak, got gut rot!
The vicarious kicks,
That he got
From Ka Cox’s coccyx,
Are in taste quite poor –
Leave me behind, my bottom is sore.

A shower curtain of sharks,
A tea cosy T-Rex;
The mildew of studious bite marks
On the plastic arms of my specs,
Glistens beneath my hair - shines through;
And the ice axe, placed adjacent to
The Yeti's footprint, for scale,
Was once a twirling, limber tail ...
But no more.
Leave me behind, my bottom is sore.

So flimsy now, without their fins,
A shower curtain of sharks begins
To hug my back, as I stay kneeling –
Its clinging transparency revealing
The gargoyle of my coccyx, behind.
Naked and shampoo-blind,
I long to hear the clatter of rings
Sliding along, as extinction slings
The shower curtain aside;
And the ligature applied
To my haemorrhoid - tied tightly -
Would also be used to strangle me,
And when we drop off, the world will be raw …
Leave me behind, my bottom is sore.

Where the sun don’t shine, it will set,
And black salubrious sweat
Will flow again, beneath the pleats
In my anus; and Keats
Should have made the distinction:
“Fully in love with easeful extinction
Is greater than half, with death, it seems … ”
Tell me the meanings of my dreams,
And why Darwin and Freud –
So anally retentive –
Never pondered the haemorrhoid:
How it provides an incentive
To be extinct;
For these two factors are linked,
Like the coccyx and the tail …
An ode to Florence Nightingale -
The wounded in war;
Leave me behind, my bottom is sore.